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Arc'teryx FL-355 - Women's Review

This harness is sleek and looks cool, but is not suited to long hanging belays.
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Price:  $145 List | $115.73 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Breathable, lightweight, compacts down well
Cons:  Not comfortable for prolonged hanging
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 6, 2018
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 13
  • Standing Comfort - 20% 9
  • Hanging Comfort - 20% 5
  • Features - 20% 7
  • Mobility - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Adjustability - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Arc'teryx FL-355 has been in production since 2015 with little change. It is also very similar to their AR-385a harness, so if these two reviews sound the same, you know why. The main difference between the FL and AR models is adjustable leg loops; the AR has them, but the FL does not. The sizing on the FL's fixed leg loops is on the narrow side though, so unless you have skinny legs, you'll probably prefer the AR and be willing the put up with the extra ounce that it adds to the harness weight. Both of these are expensive though ($145 and $155), and frankly, the design wasn't as comfortable as the Black Diamond Solution. Sure, BD's design is similar to that of Arc'teryx's, but we think they ended up creating a superior harness that costs less than half of this one — only $70! However, no other model packs down smaller, so if you are trying to save space in your backpack or when traveling, the FL-355 takes up little room.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The waistbelt on the Arc'teryx FL-355 is unlike most others in this review. It's 4 inches wide and uses Arc'teryx's "Warp Technology." The load is carried across the entire waistbelt, unlike some other harnesses that build up padding around one or two strands of webbing. This model has four ice clipper slots and a small, non-structural haul loop in the rear.

Performance Comparison


This harness is very popular  and also very expensive! It has some great features and a sleek design  but we prefer the functionality (and price tag) of the Black Diamond Solution.
This harness is very popular, and also very expensive! It has some great features and a sleek design, but we prefer the functionality (and price tag) of the Black Diamond Solution.

Standing Comfort


The FL-355 was one of the most comfortable harnesses, for standing at least. The thin waistbelt and legs loops are not confining, and we didn't get too sweaty in it. The gear loops lay flat, which is nice if you end up hiking around from climb to climb with your harness and pack on at the same time. Our only quibble about the standing comfort was the leg loops — they stay rather thick all the way around and don't taper as much as the Black Diamond Solution's, and they tended to dig into our crotch area a bit — not so comfy!

We like wide or well-padded leg loops  as long as they taper where they pass between our thighs. These leg loops stay rather wide in that area and they bothered us a bit.
We like wide or well-padded leg loops, as long as they taper where they pass between our thighs. These leg loops stay rather wide in that area and they bothered us a bit.

Hanging Comfort


When it came time to hang in this harness, we noticed those leg loops even more, and they dug into us in all of the wrong ways and the wrong places. The edges of the leg loops are designed to roll a bit (so that a sharp edge isn't digging right into you), and this is an improvement over the older 280 model. But, we still felt them digging into our thighs, and we never wanted to "hang out" long in this one. If you plan on doing lots of long routes with hanging belays, or hang-dogging a lot while sport climbing, you'd be better off with our Editors' Choice winner, the Camp Supernova, or our Top Pick for Sport Climbing, the Black Diamond Solution.

Because this harness is so thin  the leg loops tended to dig into us painfully when hanging in it. The loops are also really wide where they cross between our thighs  which was not comfortable either.
Because this harness is so thin, the leg loops tended to dig into us painfully when hanging in it. The loops are also really wide where they cross between our thighs, which was not comfortable either.

Discipline-Specific Features


This harness does have some great features that make it work well as an all-around harness, including spacious gear loops that can hold a lot of gear or quickdraws. The rear haul loop is on the small side, but it's a little more structurally sound than some of the p-cord style rear loops, like the one on the Mammut Zephir. It does say 0kN on the tag, but that's to remind you not to use it as a clip in point — it can still handle the weight of a rope. There are four ice clipper loops sewn to the exterior of the harness, but they aren't quite as functional as some that are sliced into the body of the harness. You might have some wiggling with these depending on which ice tool carabiner that you have. It does come with a teeny-tiny bag, which helps you pack it down small. We liked that feature when looking to save room in our packs or luggage.

This harness has a small haul loop  but at least it's sufficiently bar tacked and can hold the weight of a rope. Also  note the sewn on ice clipper slots.
This harness has a small haul loop, but at least it's sufficiently bar tacked and can hold the weight of a rope. Also, note the sewn on ice clipper slots.

Mobility


This harness has great mobility, and it was on par with many other lightweight harnesses in our review. One of the things that help with mobility is the elastic on the leg loops, which is something that the FL-355 has that the AR-385 doesn't.

We liked the mobility of this model. As long as the leg loops don't bug you too much  it's a great sport climbing harness.
We liked the mobility of this model. As long as the leg loops don't bug you too much, it's a great sport climbing harness.

Versatility


While the FL-355 can be used for a variety of applications, you might not be able to wear this one over anything but a light pair of leggings unless your legs are very skinny. This makes it a little less versatile than its sister, the AR-385a, which can adjust to fit over heavier pants or winter wear. Also, because this model wasn't so comfortable to hang in it wouldn't be our first choice for a long route. Check out the Misty Mountain Silhouette for something that can keep you comfortable on a full day out.

It does pack down small! This is our go-to harness for trips where weight and space are at a premium.
It does pack down small! This is our go-to harness for trips where weight and space are at a premium.

Adjustability


As we just mentioned, the leg loops are not adjustable, and they felt on the tight side for us. The elastic on the legs didn't have a lot of stretch to it either. According to their sizing chart, a Small's leg loops should be 22 to 24 inches, but they are really 20 inches according to our measurements, which felt constricting even on our 21-inch thighs. We did like the high rise on this model, but we've noticed something interesting with this harness that we haven't with any other brand: men wearing the women's model and vice versa. Depending on your geometry you may find the men's more suited to your shape than the women's. And lucky for the men who fit better in the women's version, Arc'teryx has switched away from purple and on to more gender-neutral colors.

The Solution's leg loop (top) vs. the FL-355's (bottom). Not only is the Solutions's wider  but it tapers down more where it passes through your thighs  making it more comfortable.
The Solution's leg loop (top) vs. the FL-355's (bottom). Not only is the Solutions's wider, but it tapers down more where it passes through your thighs, making it more comfortable.

Best Applications


The "FL" in this harness' name stands for "fast and light," whereas the "AR" version is for "all-around" use. After using both, we think they are highly similar with the only difference being the adjustable leg loops (and the one-ounce weight difference that comes with it0. The FL-355 could still be an all-around model if the skinny leg loops fit you well, but keep in mind that we didn't find it too comfortable to hang in.

We prefer this harness for sport climbing over anything else.
We prefer this harness for sport climbing over anything else.

Value


The Arc'teryx FL-355 is the second most expensive harness in our review ($145). Only the AR-385a cost more ($159). It's twice as expensive as the Black Diamond Solution and three times the price of the Mad Rock Venus. If you have the dough and want to spend it on this harness, it is a quality piece of gear, but it seems a little overpriced considering the rest of the market.

Conclusion


The Arc'teryx FL-355 is a head-turner, no doubt about it. Every time we brought it out to a crag, the ladies (and even men) were curious to try it on and give it a whirl. While it has a remarkable design, it didn't quite fit the bill for us when it came to comfort and fit. This could still be the best option for you if the fit is right, and it's nice and compact as well for alpine routes or traveling.


Cam McKenzie Ring